Happy Valentine’s Day–from the Heart of Haiti


Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.  —Rainer Maria Rilke

The weekend here in Haiti has ended . . .

The time to catch up—do laundry, make beds, have some spaghetti with the ones we love—has lead us to Valentine’s Day—muddy, gone-amuck Monday Cinderella-ed into—

More laundry, more beds, more spaghetti with the ones we don’t always love.

Yes, the ones we love may be less than lovely at times.  But on Valentine’s Day, I’m also thinking about my home here in Haiti and about my home in the blogosphere, readers who care, readers I’ve come to love.

So, it seems essential on this day that celebrates love, a day that celebrates caring and appreciation, that I invite readers I love into the heart of my life here in Haiti–into my home.  For it’s as true as it is cliched: home is where the heart is.

A while back, on a truly muddy Monday, I promised photos of our house in Port-au-Prince, promised, that is, when so many of you ranted about our kitchen decor in a post called “Haiti needs to be HGTV’d.”  (If you missed that post, click here.)

So, though “Writing Neurotic” still threatens (for an introduction to “Writing Neurotic” click here and here), our wireless is working well today—is almost, semi fast . . .  (Notice the adverbs that qualify “fast.”  All apply.)

Given this, I’m going to attempt a giant photo upload.   (If you’re not familiar with the wireless challenges we face at our house here in Haiti, click here.)

If I succeed, a virtual tour of our home should follow.  (Please pray the bandwidth gods, maybe even Saint Valentine himself, remain with us.)

Here’s the deal.  Our house sits on a hillside, hovering above the up-scale Port-au-Prince suburb of Petion-ville, where the streets are poorly paved, if at all, and the twists and turns of “almost-roads” threaten even the most seasoned drivers—pot holes the size of swimming pools are not uncommon.

Though there’s little electricity, once you get here, things are lovely.  Truly—our home is small but adequate, and we have dressed it up with paint—bold color, saturated color, the kind you want to drink in and absorb.

After honking to alert the guard (yes, he’s armed), he’ll open the gate and you’ll drive onto what is essentially the roof of our house—an outside deck that, for the most part, doubles our living space, (only sometimes exposing us to the stench of burning tire in the town below.  Don’t worry there’s been no rioting today.  We’re sinus-ly safe for now.)

Jean-Jean will open the gate, and our dog Ralph will greet you.

So come join us, pull up a chair, have cup of tea or a cocktail, if you like.  The roof-top deck, where we’re sitting looks like this:

The view from your seat looks like this:

And, if you wonder about that roaring, rumbling sound—it’s our generator round the corner, keeping the lights on for us:

Sorry for that obnoxious noise!

You’ll enter the house itself from the roof, by descending a set of stairs:

From the opposite side of the room, the staircase looks like this:

You’ve entered our main living space—a kitchenlivingdiningroom—what in the US we might call a “great room,” though ours is not so grand. 

The kitchen looks like this:

smallandcrampedbutweloveit

Our main seating area looks like this: 

Have a seat. Soak in the color.

On opposite sides of this space, doors lead to two rooms, the master bedroom and bath on one side, the guest room and bath on the other.

The master bedroom looks like this:

And the master bathroom looks like this:

You’ll enter the guest room through this doorway:

This room doubles as Sara’s office, but if you spend the night, you’ll sleep here:

Your bathroom, a mirror image of the master, looks like this:

Another door off the guest room leads to a balcony that looks like this:

And a stairway that looks this:

At the bottom of the stairs, another door from the outside opens into my studio and study:

Wait!

Our guard Jean-Jean rushes down the stairs–interupts the tour.  He insists the protests have started again.  You need to go.

Gosh, darn, you just got here——

We hurry back up the stairs to your car.

Well, at least you’ve gotten a sneak peak at our home in Port-au-Prince, I concede, and as you close the car door, I shout above clatter of gate opening–

Let us know when you can come again, stay a little longer, spend the night. 

I’ll send a driver and an armed-escort to meet your flight. 

(For a post about madness at the Port-au-Prince airport, click here.)

Happy Valentine’s Day from the heart of our home! 

Happy Valentine’s Day–from the (still unresolved) heart  of Haiti—————-

26 thoughts on “Happy Valentine’s Day–from the Heart of Haiti

  1. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and to Sara. I love your house, and I adore the colors. After I looked at all the house photos, I looked again at Jean-Jean. The photo of him is such a jerk back to reality after the almost fantasy-like colors of your home. Wow. And when he tells you to go, where do you go?

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    • You know that’s a good question, Renee–I thought about addressing that at the end of the post. Yes, you’re told to go–but “where?” I don’t know. Actually, if that were to happen you would probably be forced to stay, but I can’t admit that, because how would I end the post? Ha, ha!

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  2. I hope you ladies have a wonderful, peaceful day! Love your bathtubs, and the paint colours you’ve chosen! Thanks for the tour (something which will never be seen on my blog…I would die of embarrassment!).

    Hugs,
    Wendy

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  3. What a stunning and generous post, Kathy! Your home is beautiful – you have made it so welcoming and bright. I guess it’s an antidote to the craziness of the situation there. I could imagine visiting you there – thank you for the tour.
    Strength and hugs to you from London
    Sunshine xx

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  4. Your home is incredible! Vivid colors, clean lines, artsy flavor. I love it.

    The image of the guard is so striking–such a contrast to the serenity in your home. Glad you have someone around to keep you safe!

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  5. Oh, I LOVED that! If I were to come visit, I think I’d be just as happy to sleep on the rooftop patio. Your home is so gorgeous, Kathy–you and Sara have really made it cozy, sweet, and inviting. I loved the furniture choices, color choices, and the decor–I’m a horrible decorator, and I find moving into a house of our own (one we’re not renting from my in-laws) to be extraordinarily daunting. When I had the choice to change the color on the walls here (me, not Robert, lol), I went with my mother-in-law to Home Depot and chose a color called “parchment.” It’s cream. Our carpet is also cream. The trim is bright white. All throughout the house. My mother-in-law was pretty surprised that I wasn’t more creative (“you want this in every room?” she asked), but she went along with it because it ended up saving her money.

    When we’re not renting any more, when I feel like I have more creative license, I might experiment with colors. I’m inspired after seeing your home! 🙂

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    • It’s hard to do color when you’re renting. We’re fortunate that our landlady here in Haiti is okay with our bold choices. Then, again, this is place that’s pretty comfortable with color to begin with. Thanks for stopping by, Amanda!

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  6. Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Thank you for the tour of your lovely house. I love everything and I mean it. If I have to pick a favorite (because I am rude this way) the step inside the bathtub intrigues and excites me. Is that a common practice since both bathrooms have it? The view is spectacular. And BE SAFE!!!

    p.s. Please ignore my post today… I have a better, nicer one tomorrow. Today I was snarky… totally not in the spirit of Valentine’s Day

    p.p.s. Do people in Haiti talk about what has been going on in Egypt?

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    • Don’t exactly know if steps in the bathtub are standard here. I have seen several other bathrooms that are similar, however–so maybe, yes? But for Haiti, I suspect, having no bathtub is probably standard. I think it’s strange that the bathtubs are tiled. Some folks are talking and tweeting about Egypt. But don’t know how much ordinary Haitians living in tented camps really know about it. I know there’s excitement about Aristide coming home soon. He is still wildly popular with the poor.

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    • He’s great with our dogs–not that necessarily is a true indicator–so I’m suspecting he’d do well with kids. Jean-Jean is a sweet heart!

      You know what that makes me think about? Getting a group together and organizing some kind of beach and blogging vacation. The Dominican Republic (other half of our island) is VERY affordable and totally safe. Hmmmmmmmm

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  7. I’ve always loved bold colours on the walls, and it DRIVES ME NUTS to be renting a place where the walls must all stay white. 😦

    Thanks for the tour of your place, and Happy Valentines Day to you and Sara!

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  8. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Thank you so much for the tour. Your place looks wonderful. I love all the color. I spent so many years with dull, neutral colors that when we bought our current home I went crazy with color. Almost everywhere. We even painted the back of the house in sunset colors (the front and sides are a gray that doesn’t draw much attention and matches the barn).

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  9. I loved this post since I recently returned from visiting a friend (missionary) in Cap Haitian. She introduced me to your blog a few weeks ago when I was getting ready to go. Since returning I have gobbled up each post, but to this time have only been a reader. I love your place and the artsy touches. I loved my time over there inspite of the poverty and disater PAP is still in. I dream of when I can go back.
    Regarding the baths, showers — yours appear all the same as I the ones saw even up north. Waiting for your next post.

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    • Thanks so much for this comment, Ann. It’s good to know that you are reading and that your friend in Cap Haitian recommended it. Actually, that thrills me. I only knew of one other reader on the ground here in Haiti. I’m tickled you want to read more! Thanks so very much for sharing!

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  10. Thanks for the tour of your home! It looks like it could be a cool refuge in a warm tropical climate. The colours you’ve chosen also reflect the tropical feeling.

    I hope that you and Sara had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. It’s been extremely hot and humid here for the last week, so we didn’t do anything special yesterday. Will wait for a cooler day.

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    • We had an equally uneventful Valentine’s Day. Sara got home LATE from work. We did nothing. But, then again, I’m beginning to think we may be one of the most boring couples on the planet. Sorry about your heat. That can’t be good for your headaches. Take care, Lisa!

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